You have a large corporate event coming up and you need to find a location that works for everyone. Do you want to be close to the office for convenience or further away for a retreat feel? And just as important, if you have entertainment or a big speaker planned, how will the venue work for your show? Here are some key factors to consider when looking for an event location.
Every event has a purpose, whether it’s training, entertainment, a major announcement, or something else. You can be creative when it comes to corporate event locations (and your attendees will probably thank you for that), but the venue you choose must be conducive to your overall goals. Remember that workarounds, whether for audio-visual or any other set-up, will cost more and may not deliver quite the experience you envision.
A half-day business meeting should be easily accessible to make the most of everyone’s time. Time of day – morning or afternoon versus evening – might also affect convenience. Consider parking access as well as travel time.
For a full day or more, travel can be just fine, especially if you want that feeling of getting away. On the other hand, you don’t want your venue to be so “out there” that it’s a hassle (or significantly more expensive) to ship/haul all your stuff there and back.
Day of the week
Hotels and other corporate event locations usually book up fastest for Friday and weekend gatherings. Can you schedule your event for mid-week? If so, you may have more choices for venues and you will likely save money, too. That said, don’t make cost the only deciding factor. If the perfect venue is a bit more than budgeted, you may be able to save money elsewhere – as long as it won’t sacrifice attendee experience.
Corporate events come in many flavors, and you want a space that comfortably and attractively accommodates whatever you have planned. However, we suggest focusing on functionality. You can decorate to make a functional space look better, but you can’t fix space that doesn’t work. For example:
- Team-building exercises and breakout sessions may require multiple smaller rooms.
- Presentations, meals, and entertainment need a single large space.
- Will there be product-demonstrations or other presentations that require special set-up?
- Are you planning audience-participation or other types of interactive activities?
- Will you have outdoor or off-site activities?
Number of attendees
You may not have a final count for meetings and meals until your event nears, but you need a ballpark number in order to select a venue that isn’t too big or too small. Either direction can cause problems, but don’t cut it so close that you have no room to grow, should the audience exceed your expectations. Along with overall numbers, consider how many people may be involved in any specific activities as noted above.
Do your homework
Corporate event locations may have a website or sales packet, but consider that a starting point only. Use basic size, location, and cost information to choose a few “most likely” candidates, then narrow down your choices.
- Visit the venue in person, at least once, and take someone from your AV team with you. Top-quality sound, video, and lighting are critical for business events. And if you’re hoping for anything beyond the basics, your AV pros can steer you toward ideas from the subtle to the flamboyant that will fit your budget and impress your audience.
- Meet with the sales or venue manager. You want to develop a good working relationship with this person, because they can be either a barrier or tremendously helpful in planning a stand-out event.
- Be sure you understand what is included in the cost and also what is optional. The more leeway you have, the more you can custom-tailor your event and stay within budget.
- If it’s a hotel and attendees will be staying overnight, stay there yourself. (Ask if they will comp you for this.) Are the rooms and amenities up to your attendees’ expectations – or, better yet, beyond that?